Tag Archives: pancakes

Gobsmacked: Lessons in Living a Gluten Free Life #1

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GF Pancakes

How long have you been gluten free?

What prevents you from digging in and baking/cooking like you used to?

See those pancakes?  I’m proud of my weekend pancakes.  My chickadees love pancakes on the days we get to wake up in a lazy fashion (READ: 6:30AM instead of 5:15AM).   I used to be so stuck.  I would fuss over a recipe or dig one out and carefully measure, etc.  And guess what?  They didn’t care if the pancakes were perfectly fluffy or “exactly” like the ones I made last week.  They just wanted pancakes.  (In particular, pancakes cooked in olive oil that have a bit of a crunchy outside are perfect for dipping.  Or so I am told.)

Well before I was diagnosed and right before I went off to college, I sat down one afternoon with my brand spanking new typewriter (Take that, technology!) and my mom’s boxes of recipes.  Her recipe cards were from friends, family, and collected over the years from magazine clippings.  Most of the things she cooked for dinner were not on any recipe card in any box.  They were in her head.  But alas, foolish teenager that I was, I did not realize how much I would want to know about our dinners.  Instead, I focused on getting the cookies, breads, rolls, appetizers, etc from my youth onto recipe cards of my own. 

Yes, I typed them onto recipe cards.  For some reason, I didn’t think my handwriting would “last”.  I’m certain that impression came from watching the cards from grandmothers and great-grandmothers having been scribed in pencil smear and fade a bit with time – and more importantly – use!  Oh, I spent the entire afternoon typing up recipes at the kitchen table onto those cards and sliding them into sleeves within my own recipe book!  I was a GROWN-UP for sure, now!

Upon my diagnosis more than a decade later, I shoved those family recipes aside.   Once, I even “weeded through them” and threw many into the recycle bin.  I was angry.  I thought I would never need those recipes again.  After all, my doctor had told me that my future meant not a single crumb of bread, cookie, cake nor pasta would pass my lips.

 

After my first forays into the gluten free market, I became convinced that he was right.  Now only would I never bake again, but if I did happen to find a gluten free version in the store of whatever baked good I wanted, it would be disgusting.  It would be hard as a rock and as dense as a skyscraper.  (I know these weights to be accurate because my Love and I schlepped a giant amount of gluten free rolls purchased on the internet in 2000 with us on our honeymoon to Rome.  Trust me.  Dense + heavy + disgusting = doctor was right.)

 

Flash forward to this weekend.  As the girls began stirring from their sleep (hello 6AM… oh how I wish you were 8AM….LOL), my Love so graciously (HA!) offered to have “Mommy make some pancakes”.  Both girls popped up and out of bed in a flash.  Ah yes, the weekend has arrived if pancakes are on the menu and they know it.

 

Getting pancakes together absolutely no longer means even cracking open a recipe book.  Honestly.  I simply mix together ingredients as I go.  I have more memories of my grandmother and great-grandmother recipes noting ingredients in quantities of smidges, pinches, etc.  I totally get that now.  Save for the fact that mine would be measured in scoops from the flour bin, shakes of the baking soda container (always a tad more that what I think looks “right” just to be sure),  pinches of salt, couple spoons of honey or sugar and milk to the right consistency.  Everything is adjustable.  Make one practice pancake.  Taste test.  Adjust (if needed) and go!  Turn on the oven to warm and make pancakes.

 

If you had told me in October of 2000 that one-day I would again be back in the kitchen just preparing food rather than worrying about recipes for every little thing, I would not have ever believed you.

 

I still focus when baking bread.  That is something that the balance of ingredients must be “ON” for – or you will have a disaster of a loaf of bread on your hands.

 

I still write up recipes for breads, muffins, cupcakes, etc –but it feels good to be back in the kitchen and not so worried like I was before I started blogging in 2005.  I guess the best part about blogging for me has been forcing me to learn the recipes and the consistency of the doughs and mixes so I know what I am doing again.

 

So….. How long have you been gluten free?  If you are feeling like you will never get your kitchen mojo back, don’t worry:  it will come.

 

Promise.

The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally: Pancakes!

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Gluten Free Ratio Rally

Baking with a cause: YOU and getting you back in the kitchen too!

I’m a language teacher, so let me start this the right way:

What is a rally?

  • Noun:  a demonstration, a sequence of strokes between serving and scoring a point (as in tennis or squash).
  • Verb:  to come into orderly arrangement, to renew order, or united effort, as troops scattered or put to flight; to assemble, to unite, to collect one’s vital powers or forces; to regain health or consciousness; to recuperate.

There are so many ways to take this initiative.  So many definitions that ring true for people who are newly diagnosed with Celiac Sprue – or Gluten Intolerance.  So many different reasons why even those of us who have been diagnosed for a while still manage not to bake any more because of the initial fears of failure, or wasted ingredients (expense!), or downright disappointment with the results.  But here is the reality:

We need each other.

Those of us in the gluten-free world really need each other.  Together we have created a community where we have pushed each other to develop new recipes, answered questions (even those unfit for food blogs!), supported each other through the isolation that it feels like – and can often still be, and pushed our local markets and economies in to providing gluten-free food options in many, many places. Oh, yes.  We need each other to keep it all.

But this rally?  This one is for YOU.  That little part of you that is fearful of getting in to the kitchen and trying your hand at baking again.  It is intended to quell the little voice of doubt in your head that prevents you from just tossing what you have into a bowl and making breakfast for yourself and your loved ones without fear of failure or the sense of disappointment.

I know that feeling very well.

You see, I was diagnosed in 2000.  But I truly didn’t start cracking open my family recipes until nearly 4 years later.  Up until that point, I stuck to some Bette Hagman or Rebecca Reilly books.  Bette was an amazing pioneer and was my only resource upon diagnosis beyond the random (and at that time – hard to find!) internet source.  Rebecca Reilly’s cookbook became a beacon of hope for me.  She is a trained culinary artist who provides recipes for classic and delicious cakes, pies, tortes, etc.  All the things I needed to feel like I could make a birthday cake and actually *enjoy* it.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that these women were also giving me the courage to keep baking.  To keep trying new recipes.  My Love encouraged me to make my old favorites, but I always denied their possibilities.  I mean really.. who would have thought that I would be making batches of gluten-free goodies to share with friends and have for ready for my girls?  Potstickers?  Croissants? Thin crust, non-bready pizza crusts? Soft, pliable wrap bread?  Oh yes.  All of these and more.

Why?  Because it works.  And it is so, SO much less difficult that I imagined (or feared) that it would all be.  In fact, apart from a standard loaf of bread, I have found gluten-free food items and baking to be rather forgivable.  In fact, it was within the last two years or so (since the Chicklet’s arrival) that I have begun to cook and bake like my grandma’s recipe box:  handful, pinch, dash, etc.  And before this?  All of those measurements would drive me batty.  I mean really:  a pinch?  Come on now.  But – yes – a pinch!  It makes sense to me now.  Duh!  Everything is a ratio or percentage and it works.

Shauna and I bantered briefly a while ago about the ratio of whole grain flours to starch when we bake.  We each felt that there are far too many starches in standard gluten-free baked goods and we were working to reduce how much starch we were using.  Not surprisingly, we were close in our ratios.  Both of us were using about 70% whole grain flours and 30% starch.  With these measurements, I can make a batch of basic gluten-free flours for making cookies or muffins, etc.  (Not bread however – that’s a different story.)

Recently, she emailed a bunch of us to start a rally.  A rally to teach that ratios really are the key to taking off in the kitchen.   Michael Ruhlman published his book “Ratio” which explores all of the ratios in cooking and baking.  Many of us have read his work (it reads much more like a notebook than a cookbook – which is great for me) and have wondered about the exact ratios we have found to be successful as well.  Thus the beginnings of a rally.

And where best to begin but with breakfast?  And pancakes.  :)

gluten free hazelnut & dried cherry pancakes
Gluten Free Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes Photo by Kate Chan

The only problem with pancakes?  Once you start recipe testing, you can’t stop.  Trust me.  Even my non-bread-eating Chicklet is now asking for mini-pancakes and “dip-dip” (maple syrup or melted peanut butter with apple “fries”) for her breakfast.  She doesn’t want the ones from a restaurant, nope.  She wants “Momma’s”.   (Oh, I love that.)  I’ve made pancakes often before, but honestly… I don’t always measure.  There is something about having grown up with pancakes that made the batter intuitive once you know the parts/pieces involved.

I suppose it is much like my sister who with her artist-trained eye can see the different layers of color in paintings and the world.  It helps her recreate what she sees or wants to see.  For me?  It’s about the texture, the mixture, the consistency and the flavor.  Those are my artist’s colors.  They are the paints I play with.  Beyond that?  The ingredients are just the components to the paints.

My friends and I were talking at work the other day about gluten-free eating.  They were sincerely curious about what kind of baking and cooking I do at home.  For teachers, we were experiencing a rare event:  lunch off campus with adults only and for more than 25 minutes.  It was a slice of heaven.  I knew lunch was going to be at a restaurant near the school we were visiting, so I had done my leg work.  I had found the restaurant with a gluten-free menu and when the question of “Where do you guys want to eat?” popped up, I was assertive enough to request we ate at “X” because they have a gluten-free menu.  Armed with my reasoning (and the fact they could eat vegetarian there too), we were off.

But once the food was served,the questions began.  I’m sure it is because my GF option looked just like the rest of their plates.  And so the conversation ran through the usual topics: what do you eat?  where do you get it?  how often do you bake/cook? etc. I mentioned how lucky I felt to be so empowered with my own food choices and experience new things.  I told them how hard it is at first and how socially isolating it can be no matter how much experience we have.  And we talked about these pancakes.

None of them had ever made pancakes from scratch.  I told them how.  One woman quickly calculated the cost of her pancake mix and the cost of the ingredients and just about kicked herself.  Yeap, I said.  And you’re not even gluten-free.  Just imagine what those prices are like.  (OH!  I wish I had a photo of her eyes when she calculated that cost out for you! LOL)

Anyway, here’s the deal.

PANCAKES ARE GOOD.

PANCAKES ARE COMFORTING.

PANCAKES ARE EASY.

Just go in your kitchen and try it.

There are a dozen of us gluten-free bloggers participating with this Gluten Free Ratio Rally about pancakes.  We have plans for more rallies in the future.  But the fun part is just how we all took a ratio (4:4:2:1) (flour, liquid, egg, fat) and what we did with it.

Since I chose to use nut flour (either hazelnut or almond), I had to bump up my liquid a bit more.  There is something about nut flours that always requires a splash or so more of milk than other flours.  Regardless, if you have ever made pancakes before, you will know the batter texture when you see it.  It should be thick enough to coat spoon generously and yet thin enough that it will ooze off the spoon and back into the rest of the batter.  And then… you can make pancakes like these:

gluten free whole grain pancakes with strawberries
Gluten Free Whole Grain Pancakes with Strawberries Photo by Kate Chan

My pancake ratio is this:

  • 200 grams gluten-free flour mix (whole grains + starch)
  • 240 grams of liquid
  • 100 grams of eggs or 2 eggs
  • 50 grams of butter

NOTES about this ratio:

  • The gluten-free flour mix is 160 grams of whole grains, 40 grams of starch – a mix of 4:1 whole grain to starch.  For the flours I chose, this meant 1 cup of whole grains + 1/4 cup of starch.
  • The liquid is increased due to nut meals being used in the flour mix. Use less if not using not meals (200 grams = 3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon of buttermilk)
  • You can use less fat (butter) successfully, but don’t omit it completely or your pancakes will be “dry” in texture.

Gluten Free Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Pancakes
(Printable recipe can be found here.)
Makes 12-24 pancakes, depending on your preferred size

Ingredients:
130 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
30 grams (1/4 cup) hazelnut or almond meal
40 grams (1/4 cup) sweet rice flour or tapioca starch flour
75 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt
100 grams (2) eggs
240 grams (1 cup) low-fat buttermilk
50 grams (3 Tablespoons) butter, melted
30 grams (1/4 cup) dried cherries
30 grams (1/4 cup) chopped pecans or walnuts or sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Mix together all wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, melted butter) in your blender. (Or use an immersion blenderor mini blender which is what I do.)
  2. Add your dry ingredients (feel free to just dump them in OR mix them in a separate bowl together and then dump them in).  Mix until there are no dry lumps.
  3. Preheat a griddle over medium heat.  (I used a non-stick griddle, so no additional oils were needed).
  4. Pour 2-4 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle.  Sprinkle the tops with chopped nuts and dried cherries.
  5. Leave undisturbed until bubbles form and pop on the edges and form in the center.  The edges will turn slightly golden brown.  (See this photo.)  Then gingerly slide a spatula underneath and flip the pancakes.
  6. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes (the second side takes less time).  Adjust the temperature (medium-low?) for the next batch as needed.
  7. Keep warm until serving in a covered dish in a preheated/warm oven.
  8. Serve with your favorite “dip-dips”.

To Make the Gluten Free Whole Grain pancakes, omit the dried cherries and the chopped nuts. Serve with chopped fruit, powdered sugar (not pictured as the Chicklet doesn’t like her pancakes with “powder”), your favorite marmalade, melted peanut butter, etc.

Happy pancake making, all!
~Kate

gluten free hazelnut & dried cherry pancakes - take 2

You can find the other Gluten Free Blogger Ratio Rally pancake recipes here:

Tara at A Baking Life :  Supper Pancakes (with bacon inside!)

Lauren at Celiac Teen : GF, Egg-free, Dairy Free pancakes

Karen at Cooking Gluten-Free : Buckwheat Pancakes

Silvana at Dishtowel Diaries : Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

Irvin at Eat the Love : Quinoa-Cornmeal Pancakes with honey and rosemary

Britt at GF in the City : Spiced Teff Pancakes

Shauna at Gluten-Free Girl :  Pancakes with cinnamon and cardamon

Jenn at Jenn Cuisine : Hazelnut and Coconut Pancakes

Erin at The Sensitive Epicure : GF Oatmeal and Buckwheat Pancakes

Carol at Simply Gluten-Free : Maple and GF Oat Pancakes

Plus, as an added bonus, Lisa at Gluten-Free Canteen created a GF Potato Pancake

And a special note of thanks to Anile Prakash of GirlFriday.ca for creating our fabulous Gluten Free Ratio Rally logo. It’s a fabulous way to unite the effort and RALLY us all to better health together. Thank you.  (And for any of your interested in her work, please check out her site here or send her an email.)

…………

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Gluten Free: Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Pancakes

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

Gluten Free Pumpkin-Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Photo by Kate Chan

I spend my days reading books, digging little hands into lavender-orange oil scented brown rice in a big bucket, coloring, finger painting, singing, and finding joy in everyday objects and things.  I am saddened that when I wrote out the October calendar on our family calendar that my “return to work” day no longer looms in the future – but is now clearly marked on the calendar.  Rather than rue the fact that I have to  return to my role of working mom, I will consider myself lucky.  I have, after all, had the pleasure of TWO maternity leaves in a mere 15 months.  In addition, not everyone is lucky enough to have the same breaks with their kids as I will.  So rather than worry about the incredible amount of hours I will have to put in shortly (I’m teaching a new course…that has NO curriculum and NO text (EEEEK!) this year),  I will just seize on the remaining memory-making moments to keep them alive.

Lately, Zoe’s latest obsessions have included the “If You Give A..” book series by Laura Numeroff.  These books tell a simple, circular story.  (And they feel quite repetitive – as they are, purposefully.)  Most of them include an animal and some type of food.  Her first beloved book from this series was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie“.  And then came “If You Give a Moose a Muffin“.  But now?  Now she is into reading “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” and “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies“.  I’m sure you are wondering why I am telling you all this.  Here’s the reality:  if you read it or see it, the Chicklet wants to reenact it.  It is humorous to react our adventures – like we are trying to reenact her riding the merry-go-round in our living room or Super Grover swimming in a pool in the hallway, etc.

Amazingly, the Chicklet has never taken a shining to bread goods (not such a bad deal considering her Celiac momma!).  She doesn’t really care for bread, muffins, pancakes, etc.  She will take a couple nibbles of cookie or cake.  Don’t worry: she does have a sweet tooth!  Ice cream is definitely her thing.   It’s fabulous when I offer her a “treat” she will opt for a steamed soy milk with some vanilla flavoring. (Tastes just like marshmallow, if you ask me.)  But now she wants to bake all of these goodies.  For breakfast, instead of making puffy pancakes, I made these richer, denser pumpkin-cottage cheese pancakes for her to her absolute delight.  (She likes the mung bean pancakes we make, but not the fluffy traditional pancake that most of us know.)

She stood next to me on a chair while we whipped together all the goodies to make the batter.  She stirred her own little bowl of flours and water.  She helped flipped the pancakes.  but better yet:  she even did the dishes with me!

Doing the dishes!

She chowed down the pancakes with glee and raced to do the dishes.  In fact, she asked for these same pancakes the following morning as well.  I think we’ve found a winner of a recipe – and I have a delightful dishwasher to boot!

Maybe you have a friendly dishwasher or pancake lover that wishes for a little Fall-inspired morning goodness?  The sweet pumpkin here really enhances the pancake batter even though there isn’t a ton of it.  And the cinnamon could be enhanced even more with ground ginger to add a little zing (like we did the morning after these photos were taken).     I hope you get a moment to enjoy these pancakes too.  There are definitely a staple for us now.

Gluten Free Pumpkin-Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Recipe based on the plain cottage cheese pancakes we make.
Recipe makes 10-12 small pancakes.

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup pumpkin, pureed
1/3 cup gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey or sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients well.  (The Chicklet loves to use our mini-blender for this job.  LOL)
  2. Heat a nonstick-pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of batter (or less, if making small kid-friendly pancakes) into the pan (fit as many as your pan holds 3? 4?).
  4. Cook each over medium-high heat until all of the bubbles have risen and the majority of them have popped – about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the pancakes and cook the other side an addition 3-4 minutes or until all of steam stops.
  5. Serve with powdered sugar, maple syrup or your favorite pancake toppings.  (We loved adding sliced bananas to these and rolling them up.)

Happy Gluten Free Pancake munching!
~Kate

PS.  And Zoe would like to recommend that you have a little read-a-thon of “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” while munching.  Much like you would read the back of a cereal box while munching too.  I don’t know what we will cook next.  She is currently becoming fascinated with a book I used when teaching elementary school:  “The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts” by Chris Van Allsburg.  Who knows what we will be making from that one!  I’m sure she will come up with something.